2023 NFL Draft: NFC North Rookie Projections
The Bears and Lions look to compete while the Packers try to keep pace with the young NFC North.
It is a changing of the guard in the ‘Black and Blue’ division. Gone is Green Bay Packers legend Aaron Rodgers. In comes Jordan Love. Down are expectations, as head coach Matt LaFleur has already pre-warned that ‘there will be growing pains.’ Over the last 12 years, Green Bay won the NFC East eight times with A-Rod at the helm. While the Packers went out and shopped for additional weapons to provide Love in the 2023 NFL Draft, this division is as wide open as it has ever been.
While some might be ready to anoint the Minnesota Vikings as repeat division winners, the upstart Detroit Lions have been abuzz during the NFL offseason. Detroit has earned the right to be the media darlings after their love affair on Hard Knocks…they fell short of the playoffs on the final week of the regular season. However, the Lions just might have the youngest nucleus of core players in the NFL. They added rookie running back jitterbug Jahmyr Gibbs, bruising linebacker Jack Campbell and versatile defender Brian Branch via the draft.
Despite rattling off 13 victories a year ago, Minnesota couldn’t swat a fly on defense. After selecting wideout Jordan Addison, the Vikings went on the defensive with their next three selections. However, ‘Captain Checkdown,’ Kirk Cousins remains the quarterback and there is only so much run left in that carpet ride. In Justin Fields, the Chicago Bears have arguably the best quarterback in the division, making them the x-factor. Chicago general manager Ryan Poles has worked feverishly to flip the roster during the past two off seasons. The Beard are suddenly loaded with speedy playmakers and got stronger in the trenches through the draft. With three franchises on a sharp ascension, the Packers stranglehold on the Norris seems to be officially over.
Below is a breakdown of how each selection of the 2023 NFL Draft fits in with their new teams for the NFC North, plus projections on how they might perform in year one.
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PREVIOUS IMPACT PROJECTIONS: AFC East | AFC North | AFC South | AFC West | NFC East | Up Next: NFC South
Player Rating Impact Scale: 10 – 9.5 = All Pro Impact | 9.4 – 8.9 = Pro Bowl Impact | 8.8 – 8.0 = Starter Impact | 7.9 – 7.0 = Rotational Impact | 6.9 – 6.0 = Backup Impact | 5.9 – Below = Practice Squad Impact
CHICAGO BEARS [OVERALL ROOKIE IMPACT RATING = 70]
Rd1.No.10 Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee: A sturdy plug-and-play tackle but let’s keep the situation in perspective, Chicago sacrificed quality prospects for a quantity of players. Projection: 17 starts. Impact Factor: 8.4
Rd2.No.53 Gervon Dexter Sr., DT, Florida: Will factor into the defensive line rotation primarily as an interior player and run stopper Projection: 17 games, four starts, 35 tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss.
Rd2.No.56 Tyrique Stevenson, CB, Miami: Tremendous value when you consider how many cornerbacks were chosen prior to Stevenson—he will challenge for a starting role as a rookie. Projection: 14 games played, 12 starts, 26 tackles, two interceptions, seven pass deflections. Impact Factor: 7.6
Rd3.No.64 Zacch Pickens, DT, South Carolina: Much like Dexter, the Bears will look to use Pickens as a backup lineman who specializes against clogging the middle. Projection: 17 games played, five starts, 29 tackles, two sacks, four tackles for loss. Impact Factor: 7.1
Rd4.No.115 Roschon Johnson, RB, Texas: This is one of the worst teams in the league from an overall value standpoint. Chicago signed D’Onta Foreman and still has Khalil Herbert on the roster. To be utilizing a near top-100 selection on a third string running back is debatable but some feel Johnson could push for a starting gig. Projection: 92 carries, 432 rushing yards, 110 receiving yards, three touchdowns. Impact Factor: 6.9
Rd4.No.133 Tyler Scott, WR, Cincinnati: It’s clear that GM Ryan Poles values speedy wideouts and Scott fits the mantra He’ll be used similar to Darnell Mooney, who has struggled to remain healthy. Projection: 13 games played, two starts, 23 catches, 387 receiving yards, two touchdowns. Impact Factor: 6.8
Rd5.No.148 Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon: The front office should be lauded for the way the linebacker unit was overhauled. With Sewell to back up Tremaine Edmunds and TJ Edwards, this is a solid group overall. Projection: 12 games played, 33 tackles, two tackles for loss. Impact Factor: 6.6
Rd5.No.165 Terell Smith, CB, Minnesota: Another player who could very well outplay his draft position, Smith should compete for playing time immediately; he is a well-rounded corner. Projection: 15 games played, seven starts, 22 tackles, seven pass deflections. Impact Factor: 7.5
Rd7.No.218 Travis Bell, DT, Kennesaw State: A surprise pick, Bell is the first player in Kennesaw State history to be selected in the NFL Draft. Projection: practice squad. Impact Factor: 5.9
Rd7.No.258 Kendall Williamson, DB, Stanford: The hard-hitting Williamson is wound up like the energizer bunny and could have an impact on special teams. Projection: five games played. Impact Factor: 6.1
DETROIT LIONS [OVERALL ROOKIE IMPACT RATING = 70]
Rd1.No.12 Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama: A polarizing pick. Detroit blew the Jamaal Williams negotiations and then signed David Montgomery at the same cost. Next, they pivoted to Gibbs and dealt off D’Andre Swift for a bag of chips. It’s a bit bizarre from the outside looking in. To his credit, Gibbs is talented enough to make everyone forget all of this. Projection: 195 carries, 897 rushing yards, 413 receiving yards, eight touchdowns. Impact Factor: 8.3
Rd1.No.18 Jack Campbell, ILB, Iowa: He fits the Lions mold and makes the Lions much deeper but one wonders what happens to Malcolm Rodriguez with Alex Anzalone entrenched as one starter. Campbell is best-suited as a two down backer. Projection: 16 games played, 13 starts, 78 tackles, four tackles for loss, one sack, one interception. Impact Factor: 7.8
Rd2.No.34 Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa: An excellent addition for Jared Goff, especially inside the red zone. The team clearly did not want to pay TJ Hockenson (Vikings) who they dealt within their own division. Projection: 17 games played, 15 starts, 44 catches, 516 receiving yards, four touchdowns. Impact Factor: 7.8
Rd2.No.45 Brian Branch, FS, Alabama: Possibly the greatest value selection of the entire draft, Branch has the potential to become a top safety in the NFL. It should be fun to watch him defy the odds! Projection: 17 games played, nine starts, 50 tackles, seven tackles for loss, two interceptions. Impact Factor: 7.7
Rd3.No.68 Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee: Some thought Hooker would be a good fit in the first round. Great move, as he could be their quarterback of the future. If not, it only cost them a third round pick. Well played by GM Brad Holmes. Projection: redshirt year. Impact Factor: 6.4
Rd3.No.96 Brodric Martin, DT, Western Kentucky: This was a trade up move to ensure the services of Martin who will bring a high motor to the defensive line rotation. Projection: 14 games played, one start, 18 tackles, two tackles for loss. Impact Factor: 6.5
Rd5.No.152 Colby Sorsdal, OT, William & Mary: Give Detroit credit for leaving no stone unturned, not many had Sorsdal on their radar. He’ll need time to develop. Projection: five games played. Impact Factor: 6.3
Rd7.No.220 Antoine Green, WR, North Carolina: Likely a special teams selection, Detroit must see something that most others do not. Projection: practice squad. Impact Factor: 5.8
GREEN BAY PACKERS [OVERALL ROOKIE IMPACT RATING = 69]
Rd1.No.13 Lukas Van Ness, DE, Iowa: With the selection of Van Ness, the team is hoping to utilize him in a Clay Matthews type of role/impact. Projection: 17 games played, 38 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, seven sacks. Impact Factor: 7.9
Rd2.No.42 Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State: Durability is a major concern but Musgrave owns a frame and skill-set that could lead to a trajectory much like George Kittle; injuries curtailed his draft stock but he could be the best of the bunch. Projection: 12 games played, 10 starts, 36 catches, 448 receiving yards, five touchdowns. Impact Factor: 7.7
Rd2.No.50 Jayden Reed, WR, Michigan State: A solid route runner with dependable hands, Reed can line up anywhere and welcomes going across the middle of the field. Projection: 15 games played, three starts, 26 catches, 352 receiving yards, two touchdowns. Impact Factor: 7.0
Rd3.No.78 Tucker Kraft, TE, South Dakota State: They should bunk up Kraft with Musgrave and make sure the both of them get extra meal swipes, they need to bulk up for the next level—Kraft can be a speedy slot weapon for Jordan Love. Projection: 17 games played, five starts, 33 catches, 408 receiving yards, three touchdowns. Impact Factor: 7.5
Rd4.No.116 Colby Wooden, DT, Auburn: This was a great Day Three pick, as Wooden really strengthens the defensive front and the ability for DC Joe Barry to mix and match. With the aforementioned Van Ness, plus Rashan Gary and Kenny Clark there are lots of inside/outside mismatches to be played. Projection: 17 games played, four starts, 36 tackles, four sacks, seven tackles for loss. Impact Factor: 7.3
Rd5.No.149 Sean Clifford, QB, Penn State: A backup quarterback was needed, Clifford is the equivalent of having another coach inside the quarterback room. Projection: emergency quarterback. Impact Factor: 6.3
Rd5.No.159 Dontayvion Wicks, WR, Virginia: Had somewhat of a down year but the size, athleticism and flashes are all there. The light is flickering but Wicks needs to prove he can turn the bulb on. Projection: nine games played, 11 catches, 123 receiving yards. Impact Factor: 6.2
Rd6.No.179 Karl Brooks, DT, Bowling Green: One of the biggest combine snubs, Brooks brings the ability to get after the quarterback from the interior and could be a valuable backup down the stretch once injuries start to pile up. Projection: 17 games played, two starts, 22 tackles, four and a half tackles for loss, one and a half sacks. Impact Factor: 6.6
Rd6.No.207 Anders Carlson, K, Auburn: A consistent performer who can hit from distance, he should be fine with the elements; Carlson is originally from Colorado. Projection: 27-of-33 field goals made, long of 54 yards, 118 points. Impact Factor: 7.9
Rd7.No.232 Carrington Valentine, CB, Kentucky: A size/speed combo corner, Valentine could eventually slide over to free safety depending on how training camp shakes out. Projection: five games played, 10 tackles. Impact Factor: 6.3
Rd7.No.235 Lew Nichols, RB, Central Michigan: A bruising back who dealt with some nagging injuries during his final season for the Chippewas, Nichols will be ready for short-yardage duties should AJ Dillon’s hamstrings act up again. Projection: 18 carries, 55 yards. Impact Factor: 6.0
Rd7.No.242 Anthony Johnson, CB, Virginia: Another defensive back with corner or safety flexibility, Johnson will be sure to intensify the competition and might even earn some valuable reps as a rookie; he’s tenacious. Projection: 14 games played, one start, 35 tackles, one interception, five pass deflections. Impact Factor: 6.7
Rd7.No.256 Grant DuBose, WR, Charlotte: A tall, long, fast wideout, DuBose struggles to separate outside of utilizing his speed but he does have traits and excels in jump balls; an attempt to catch lighting in a bottle. Projection: eight games played, 13 catches, 162 receiving yards. Impact Factor: 6.2
MINNESOTA VIKINGS [OVERALL ROOKIE IMPACT RATING = 72]
Rd1.No.23 Jordan Addison, WR, USC: It was necessary for Minnesota to find a compliment to Justin Jefferson. Adding Addison also allows KJ Osborn to stay in his slot role where he is most effective. Projection: 17 games started, 77 catches, 1,034 receiving yards, seven touchdowns. Impact Factor: 8.6
Rd3.No.102 Mekhi Blackmon, CB, USC: It is not out of the realm to see Blackmon compete for a starting role as early as week one; he possesses size, speed, physicality and might be better than most of the corners currently on the roster. Projection: 15 games played, 11 starts, 42 tackles, three interceptions, eight pass deflections. Impact Factor: 7.8
Rd4.No.134 Jay Ward, CB, LSU: Depth at cornerback was the most glaring concern entering the draft and Ward brings another battle-tested player who was productive in the SEC. Projection: 17 games played, three starts, 37 tackles, one interception, four pass deflections. Impact Factor: 7.2
Rd5.No.141 Jaquelin Roy, DT, LSU: A two down space-eater who owns some explosiveness off the ball snap, Roy should factor into the rotation. Projection: 16 games played, six starts, 39 tackles, two tackles for loss. Impact Factor: 6.9
Rd5.No.164 Jaren Hall, QB, BYU: It’s no secret that Minnesota was sniffing around quarterbacks throughout the draft process. Hall is raw and needs to hone in some of his decision-making but he has a live arm and is athletic enough to extend plays. Projection: practice squad. Impact Factor: 6.2
Rd7.No.222 DeWayne McBride, RB, UAB: It was a spectacular season for McBride who would have led the nation in rushing if not for a late season injury, he’s elusive in the open field, has breakaway in-game speed and a nose for the end zone. Projection: 45 carries, 185 rushing yards. Impact Factor: 6.6
Have a great day!
2023 USI Insurance Holdings ITL Combine Seminar presented by American Tens Rugby.
The 2nd Annual ITL Bart List Awards [Pro Tier | College Tier]
Last year, for the first time ever, Inside the League surveyed NFL scouts to determine which 10 college scouts were the best in each conference. The 10 evaluators who received the most votes were named to the inaugural BART List, named after former Rams scout Danton Barto.
This year, ITL expanded the vote to honor college evaluators in two categories, executive and scout, as well as a new pro scouting category. The vote resulted in 27 members of personnel departments earning selection to this special list. The following individuals have been named honorees of the 2nd Annual BART List Awards.
Note: All NFL scouts who have been active in the league for at least five of the last six seasons were eligible to vote.
Pro Scout Category · Ray Agnew, New York Jets · Brian Gardner, Tennessee Titans · Alex Loomis, Dallas Cowboys · Justin Matthews, New Orleans Saints · Steven Price, New York Giants · Tim Terry, Kansas City Chiefs Executive Category (College) · Tariq Ahmad, San Francisco 49ers · Ed Dodds, Indianapolis Colts · Terrance Gray, Buffalo Bills · Jeff Ireland, New Orleans Saints · Kyle Smith, Atlanta Falcons · Matt Terpening, Indianapolis Colts · Will McClay, Dallas Cowboys Scout Category (College) · Tokunbo Abanikanda , Atlanta Falcons · Jim Abrams, Miami Dolphins · Calvin Branch, Las Vegas Raiders · Mike Baugh, New Orleans Saints · Marcus Cooper, New York Giants · Terry Delp, Kansas City Chiefs · Dom Dericco, San Francisco 49ers · Mike Derice, New York Giants · Dom Green, New York Jets · Brian Hill, Los Angeles Rams · Doug Majeski, Buffalo Bills · Ted Monago, Los Angeles Rams · Pat Sperduto, Kansas City Chiefs · Johnathon Stigall, New York Jets · Sam Summerville, Chicago Bears · Dan Zegers, Cleveland Browns